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Can I withhold visitation for overdue child support?

The inherent difficulties of being a good parent can become much more complex when trying to navigate through custody rights, visitation schedules and child support payments. Far too often, it can be tempting for the parent who maintains primary custody of a child to withhold visitation privileges if the other parent does not meet certain expectations, specifically regarding child support. Likewise, the non-custodial parent may feel that spending more time with a child reduces his or her child support obligations. While these feelings are understandable, they are not in keeping with the law. Visitation rights are not contingent on child support payments, and vice versa, and should not be treated as such.

It is a common misconception among some parents that amount of time a child spends with one parent or the other should have some bearing on the amount of child support a parent is required to provide. However, the law does not treat these matters as being related. Child support is a fixed figure that does not change depending on time spent in custody of a child. If a parent wishes to request an alteration to the amount of child support that is required, he or she may seek a court order that directs such a change.

It is also very important to understand that unpaid child support should not be met with a denial of visitation rights. While it may seem like a fair way to motivate the non-custodial parent to pay the child support he or she owes, the law treats these issues as being separate. Beyond the legal ramifications of withholding visitation rights from the non-custodial parent for neglected child support payments, it is not a fair way to treat a child. Regardless of the frustrations surrounding child support negligence, the non-custodial parent is still the child's parent, and that relationship should not be made to suffer on account of the parents' relational complications.

Fair child support and visitation arrangements can be difficult to agree on and comply with, but a child should never be the one suffering in such arrangements. An experienced attorney can help ensure all parties involved take action to make sure the child is cared for above all else.

Source: womensdivorce.com, "Child Support and Visitation," Brette Sember, accessed July 08, 2016

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